A regular source with close links to Ethiopian Airlines has overnight confirmed rumours that the airline is now only expecting delivery of their first B787 Dreamliner, ET is Boeings African launch customer, by August this year, pushed back a month from the initially anticipated July delivery. The airline is due to receive four of their ordered 10 B787 this year and earlier indications was that the first aircraft would be delivered as scheduled after repeated delays in the past, but now August seems the more likely time frame for the continents first B787 to take to the skies over Africa.
There has been no indication at this stage that the remaining three aircraft due for delivery may also be delayed further. The B787 Dreamliner is joining the Ethiopian fleet to cater for both expansion as well as to progressively replace the ageing B767 aircraft, some of which have been retrofitted with blended winglets to reduced drag and fuel burn, crucial this year as aviation fuel prices in average remain at record highs.
No details could be obtained for this new delay, whether related to production problems or an airline internal decision.
Ethiopian will also soon launch a new service to South America, namely to Sao Paulo, upstaging Kenya Airways on both scores, being the first to get the Dreamliner and the first to fly to South America. KQ is expecting their first B787 the Kenyan national airline has 9 firm orders in place right now with a further 4 options by March 2014 and has indicated their intention to serve Sao Paulo (GRU) within their 2014/15 financial year, when deliveries of new aircraft will support further network expansion.
Watch this space as the battle for the skies over Africa keeps heating up and the two East African aviation giants pit themselves and their respective alliances, Star Alliance and SkyTeam, against each other using very similar strategies for expansion.